Seles eager to get foot back in door
Exhibition match with Navratilova part of healing process
BY JOHN PACKETT
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
Feb 20, 2004
Monica Seles is itching to get back on the tennis court, and Richmonders might be the first ones to see - and hear - her next month.
Seles, who hasn't played competitively since last year's French Open in May because of surgery on her right foot, is scheduled to meet Martina Navratilova in an exhibition March 22 at the Siegel Center.
"I'm feeling good," Seles said yesterday. "I've been in this cast. I haven't played in a while, and I can't wait to get back."
The winner of nine Grand Slam singles titles during her career, Seles left the circuit last year when it became too painful to play on the foot. The 30-year-old has been recovering at her home in Sarasota, Fla., and is hopeful of banging her ground strokes again soon.
"I'm going to have an MRI on Wednesday of next week," Seles said. "So that's what I'm shooting for [to start playing]. This foot problem has been a major bummer. The last couple of months have been a testing time for me. I'm just going to take it a month at a time. The main thing is not to come back too fast.
"I've been trying to stay positive through all this, which is really important, but it's been hard."
Seles and Navratilova, 47, haven't played a tournament match since an indoor event in Paris in 1993, not long before she was stabbed in the back during a tourney in Germany.
"We always had these epic matches," Seles said. "It would be 6-4 or 7-5 in the third set. We're just such opposite game styles. She keeps charging the net, and I keep trying to keep her back. She lives very close to me, and we practiced quite a few times last year.
"It's a pleasure to play her. She's one of the greatest to ever play the game. It's amazing that she's still playing and winning Grand Slams [in doubles]. She's such an inspiration."
Seles, whose distinctive grunting was as much a part of her game as two-handed returns, wants to get back on the tour later this year, but realizes it's going to be a slow process.
"I'm just looking short-term right now, but if I could come back and be injury-free, that would be the biggest gift I could have," she said.